Friday, July 29, 2011

{ stellies wyn fees }

The 10th Stellenbosch Wine Festival running from 28-31 July 2011, is already well underway. Located about 45min outside of Cape Town, this picturesque farming and student town makes a great day trip and is surrounded my over 150 wine farms - making a wine festival inevitable. 

The week preceding the festival, starting 22 July, included some interesting smaller events while the main food and wine attraction started yesterday -  with over 500 wines for tasting at the Paul Roos Centre, you may have to invest in a full weekend pass! Cape Town residents are super privileged to have the 'countryside' just around the corner, so if you have some time to head out of the city this weekend, this festival is highly recommended. For tickets click here (it's a bit cheaper if you buy them online, or use your American Express card), and since you'll be drinking, don't forget the shuttle service here

If you can't make the festival, be sure to pencil it in for next year, and in the meantime schedule a road-trip to the Stellenbosch Wine Route as soon as possible. It's the oldest wine route in the country, turning 40 this year, and includes 150 farms, many of which offer free tastings, restaurants and a host of other activities all year round, which means plenty of entertainment for a fun day-outing. Thanks to the Stellenbosch University (aka. Maties), the Stellies night life is a guaranteed good time as the blog StelliesJol attests. Also check out two of my favourite Stellies night spots: The Mystic Boer and Aandklas for a chilled vibe and quality local music!

Images: Logo, Map

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

{ i love coffee festival }

The Klein Karoo winter is not something to shrug at. Despite layers of coats, scarfs and handskoene (gloves) - zero degrees at 7.30am is never an ideal way to start a work day. Mornings like this all I crave is a strong cup of joe. I remember rainy varsity days starting with a tall cappuccino from Vida in Kloof Street before hopping a Jammie Shuttle, and being wide awake just in time for my 8am lecture. Sadly those student days are long gone, along with the coffee (if you know of any hidden quality coffee joints in the Klein Karoo - please direct me!).

These thoughts lead to one of the many reasons why I'm excited to drive back to Cape Town this weekend. Beyond my regular caffeine fix, I'm definitely attending the i love coffee festival at the Neighbourgoods Market, at the the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock this Saturday 30 July. Along with the usual Neighbourgoods Market fare of fresh foodie goodness, expect some of the best coffee South Africa has to offer, an ideal cure for a potential Saturday morning hangover. There's also the opportunity to learn a bit more about the process of roasting, cupping, and alternative brewing methods from local roasters - always interesting and important to know where what you're consuming comes from, and in this case, how it makes it's way to your coffee machine. Just another reason to buy local!

Check out i love coffee's blog here. Regular posts profiling hip new coffee spots, aficionados and baristas make it a must read for anyone who appreciates their java. I particularly enjoyed a little post entitled 7 reasons why coffee is way cooler than tea - good for a chuckle. Looks like I'll be on a not so mild caffeine high all weekend!

Images: i love coffee

Friday, July 22, 2011

{ no regret friday }

No Regret Friday is a campaign launched by South African Breweries this month in an attempt to curb irresponsible drinking. I appreciate the simple, but 'oh-so-true' byline - how many times have you heard "I'm never drinking again" on a Saturday morning, from a hungover mate. The campaign comes at a time when there have been calls to manage drinking in South Africa, particularly here in the Western Cape where alcohol abuse is a major social issue. I've heard a couple radio debates from proposals to ban billboard advertising of alcohol, to closing bars earlier, and increasing the legal drinking age to 21, so there has definitely been a resurgence in the alcohol debate. 

It's cool that SAB, at the very least on face value, is trying to take some responsibility for the nature of their products. However, the debates that have been voiced recently often reflect an understanding that its the government's responsibility and that Province needs to regulate access to alcohol; though what it really comes down to is that what we consume and how we consume it is our individual responsibility. Irresponsible drinking is a symptom of poor socialisation, a lack of respect for those around us, and a lack of understanding that we are all connected and that our actions have impacts beyond ourselves. This argument is a little on the 'higher ground' but it's true, and it would be nice if public debates focussed more critically on the social problems and not only their manifestations. But it's easier to talk about drinking than about the tricky subject of 'culture'... Definitely something to think about.

Hmm, that might have been a bit heavy for a Friday post, but wherever you end up tonight - have a party, but don't forget to take a cab, call a friend, or volunteer to be designated Dave, we'll all be better off for it. If you need additional motivation check out the No Regret Friday website here, or follow #NoRegretFriday on Twitter. 

Images: No Regret Friday, SAB

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

{ good ideas. better cities. }

Stumbled on this website and the title made me happy. People have been dreaming of the cities of the future for as long as we have been building cities. From Orwell's 1985 to sci-fi landscapes, everyone wants to know what's coming next. These days the discourse focusses more around carbon free cities and innovative 'greener' cities which will last into the future. The emphasis seems to have shifted from what we can create, to how we can adapt, which is why the quarterly magazine, 'The Next American City', is such a great vision/concept - it keeps looking forward.

Starting tomorrow 14 July 2011, 'Next American City' will be documenting a conference called 'The Just City' hosted by the 'Ford Foundation'. This hive of creative minds from a range of professions such as policy planners, urban designers and economists, will explore how "fairness, equity and opportunity serve as defining features in this new era of urbanisation". The ideas of equal opportunities and social justice in the city are hot topics re: South African cities which are innately spatially segregated and 'unjust'. Looking forward to some fresh international perspectives! Follow the live blog stream here

Images: Next American City 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

{ eco-capitalism }

Monthly highlights of top role-players across all industries, make Leadership magazine as refreshing as it is inspiring. The June 2011 issue is filled with anecdotes and case studies by top "green leaders" who have made their mark for the sustainability cause. One that really spoke to me was an interesting article arguing that "eco-capitalism" and entrepreneurial competition are key to tools in the struggle to rescue our planet and "repair our future" by Jason Drew (pictured above) read the article here. He's also penned a book called "The Protein Crunch" alongside writer, David Lorimer, exploring the effects of unchecked mass-consumption.

If you're looking for other books linked to the idea of "civilization on the brink", I'd recommend these by two of my favourite (popular) science writers: "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell and "Collapse " by Jared Diamond (plus they both have interesting hair). These books take two different perspectives on the idea of "limits to growth", the first explores how and why trends happen and ideas grow, while the second is focussed on life-spans of 'civilisations', which are essentially the result of the way trends and ideas have developed within particular social or environmental constraints. Gladwell's writing is more accessible compared to Diamond's rather heavy offering, but both are definitely worth the read!

Images: Leadership Magazine

Monday, July 11, 2011

{ pavement special }

Spotted on the corner of St John's and High Street, Oudtshoorn :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

{ mendieta silueta series }

I haven't posted anything about artists in a while, and Ana Mendieta is right up there in my top five! These images are taken from her 'Silueta Series (1973-1980)'. Always makes me think about the space you're in - the effect you have on space and space has on you. The black and whites are beautiful and haunting...

What imprint are you leaving behind?
Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

{ ostrich avian flu epidemic }

I normally get really excited when I see Oudtshoorn, my adopted town, in the news. Festivals such as the KKNK and Klein Karoo Klassique normally make a national appearance, but generally it takes something extreme for such a small town to make it's onto the 7 o'clock bulletin.

Sadly, this time its bad news. The first case of the H5N2 virus was detected on one ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn in April this year, resulting in the culling of approx. 5 000 birds in one week in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Luckily, the virus is not harmful to humans, but the head count is now standing at 25 000 birds culled since April! There are renewed calls for Oudtshoorn Business Chamber to find a solution to contain the aivan flu outbreak after three new cases were detected in the last week, two near Volmoed and one just outside Oudtshoorn. 

As a result of the virus a ban on the export of ostrich meat has been implemented since April. For every month of the ban South Africa is losing R108 million in direct income! Per month. 

Even the trained ostriches at the Highgate Farm which are used for rides and ostrich racing, have had to be culled.  The avian flu and the ban on exports are having wide reaching social and economic impacts due to the dominance of the ostrich trade in the local tourism and farming industries - Oudtshoorn, which already struggles with increasing poverty, may be facing a massive unemployment crisis if the H5N2 virus persists. In such a small town this could have tragic consequences... 

Images: Ostrich Chicks, Ostrich Riders

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

{ tiger tiger }

Tigers in the Karoo? We’re always laughing at tourists who are looking for Tigers in our backyards, retorted by the standard response of “of course there’re no Tigers in Africa (except in Claremont on a Friday night)”. This is no longer the case. After watching 50|50 last night, I now know that South Africa is now home to 10% of the world’s South China Tiger population. The 'Save China's Tigers' Foundation has established a breading site within a farm located near Phillipolis in the Free State in the Karoo - the original idea was to “rewild” the offspring and then return them to China to be released into specially created tiger reserves. While this goal has not yet been realised, the founder, Li Quan, is positive this project will influence research and best practice of how big cats are bred in semi-captivity and reintroduced to the wild.  

An indigenous example of big cat breeding is located in Oudtshoorn where the Cheetah breeding grounds can be found to the north, between the Cango Caves and the CBD. The cheetah breeding grounds here are one of only two such projects in the Southern Hemisphere, making the Cango Wildlife Ranch a definite must see when you're visiting the Klein Karoo. 

Watch 50|50 every Monday on SABC 2 at 19h30. The producers are really trying to change the way South African’s think about what ‘environment’ means. Kudos.

Monday, July 4, 2011

{ cape town for world design capital! }

One of the reasons why I love town planning as a profession and concept is that it can actually change the way people move through and understand space! Isn’t that incredible?! So much responsibility, and so much opportunity to use design to influence people’s lives! 

Cape Town is a city that Apartheid planning has rendered hugely inefficient through spatial segregation, which is why it is such great news that after massive effort from the Cape Town Partnership, Creative Cape Town and other groups, Cape Town has been shortlisted as one of the three cities, out of 56 nominations, competing for the prestigious title of World Design Capital 2014  - the other two contenders being Dublin, Ireland and Bilbao, Spain

The title of World Design Capital has been awarded biennially since 2008, by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) to cities that are dedicated to using design for social, cultural and economic development. Coming in the top three puts Cape Town's creative and knowledge economies firmly on the map! The winning city will be announced in Taipei on the 26 October 2011. 

May the most innovative city (*cough*Cape Town) win!

Images: Cape Town World Design Capital, Pivot Dublin, Beating Design, Cape Town

Friday, July 1, 2011

{ the global urbanist }

The Global Urbanist is a very informative and accessible 'online journal' type of website with articles focussed on planning, governance, the environment, and all manner of issues that impact on how we understand and interact with global 'urban realities'. Take a look at some interesting case studies on housing in Johannesburg for international perspectives on local issues.

The site was established in 2009 by alumni of graduate urban policy and international development programmes at the London School of Economics (LSE). Its a great point of reference for anyone interested in why there is such divergence in urban development.  

Image: The Global Urbanist